Manni is a popular Icelandic card game, and has large numbers of local versions. Manni means little man or chap, and is the name given to the spare hand of cards dealt to the table, which may be used to improve a player's hand. This page is based on translations by Anthony Smith of parts of "Spilabók AB" by Þ. Guðmundsson, 1989, Reykjavik and on information contributed by Eldsmiðurinn (Palli). The rules of the basic game will be given first, followed by several variations.
- Players and cards
- Three players use a 48 card pack, made from a standard 52 card pack by taking out the twos. The cards in each suit rank in the normal order from ace (high) to three (low). The four twos are used as trump indicators; the trump suit rotates from deal to deal in the sequence hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs, hearts, etc.
- 12 cards are dealt to each player, in packets of four. The remaining 12 cards form the Manni, which is placed face-down in the centre of the table.
- Exchanging cards
- The player to dealer's left has the opportunity to change all 12 cards with the 12 cards of the Manni (whose cards are unknown). If the player to dealer's left chooses not to exchange, the opportunity to do so passes clockwise around the table. Once a player has exchanged the other players must play with the cards they were dealt. If no one exchanges all play with their original cards and the Manni is not looked at.
- The Play
- The player to the dealer's left leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible; if unable to follow they may play any card. The trick is won by the highest trump in it, or, if it contains no trump, by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of each trick leads to the next.
- A cumulative score is kept, everyone starting at zero. Players who win more than four tricks score one point for each trick in excess of four; players with four or fewer tricks score nothing. Players with exactly four tricks neither win nor lose. The game continues until one or more players have a cumulative score of 10 points or more. The player who then has most points is the winner.
The name of this game seems to mean "tree-man". In this version a full 52-card pack is used, from which 16 cards are dealt to each of the three players in packets of four, and there are just four cards left for the Manni. Instead of the trump suit rotating, the player to dealer's left is the declarer, and must choose one of the four possible contracts. Each player must choose each contract once in the course of the whole game, which consists of twelve deals. The contracts are:
- Nullo (to avoid taking tricks; there are no trumps)
- Grand (to take tricks with no trump suit)
- Spades (to take tricks with spades as trumps)
- Other (to take tricks with a trump suit chosen by the contractor)
Before leading to the first trick, the declarer is allowed to discard up to 4 cards and replace them by drawing an equal number of cards from the Manni. The other players are not allowed to exchange any cards.
In this game both positive and negative points are scored. If the contract is Grand, Spades or Other, the declarer's target is 8 tricks and the other players have a target of 4 tricks each. Each player scores 1 positive point for each trick above their target, or 1 negative point for each trick below their target.
If the contract is Nullo, the declarer's target is 4 tricks and the other players have a target of 6 tricks each. The aim is to avoid winning tricks, so you win score 1 positive point for each trick below your target, or 1 negative point for each trick you win in excess of your target.
After 12 deals each player's negative points are subtracted from their positive points to produce a net positive or negative score. These net scores should always add up to zero. The player with the highest positive score wins, or if playing for stakes the positive and negative scores indicate how much each player should pay or receive.
- Some do not allow the declarer to choose spades as trumps in the "other" contract.
- Some play that the declarer must discard either 4 cards or none at all.
This archive copy of Eldsmiðurinn's web page describes a version of Manni played in Hornafjörður, on the South-East coast of Iceland. They play the World Championship there during the summer lobster festival. In 1997 there were about 300 participants.
For this game the twos are kept in the pack, and the deal is 4 cards to the Manni, then 3 to each player, repeated until the Manni has 16 cards and each player has 12. The player to dealer's right cuts the cards, and the cut card determines the contract as follows:
- ten or higher - no trumps
- six to nine - the suit of the cut card is trumps
- five or lower - nóló (avoid taking tricks, with no trumps, Ace low)
The cut card ends up at the bottom of the pack and so goes to the dealer.
The player to dealer's left can discard up to seven cards and replace them from the top of the Manni. The discards are put face down in a pile separate from the Manni and are out of the game. Then the player to dealer's right can discard up to five and replace them. Finally the dealer can discard up to as many cards as are left in the Manni - there will be four if the first two players exchanged the maximum number of cards.
The player to dealer's left leads to the first trick and the play is as usual, with one exception. If the contract is nóló, The Ace is the lowest card of each suit, ranking below the Two. In all other contracts the Ace is high, above the King. Each player has a target of 4 tricks, the aim being to take as many tricks as possible if the contract is no trumps or a suit, but as few as possible if it is nóló.
As usual, when the aim is to win tricks 1 positive point is scored for each trick above the target or 1 negative point for each trick below it. When the aim is to lose tricks, 1 positive point is scored for each trick below the target or 1 negative point for each trick above it.
In this game the positive and negative points for each player are recorded separately on the score sheet, sometimes as tally marks. Further hands are played until someone has scored 10 or more positive points. Only at the end of the game are the negative points for each player subtracted from their positive points. The player with the highest net positive score is then the winner. So the winner is not necessarily the player who ended the game by accumulating 10 positive points: that player may also have a large number of negative points to subtract. If two players tie for most points, they share the win.
There is a tradition that the above version of Hornafjarðarmanni was invented by a minister of the local church. This version has been the most popular in Hornafjörður as well as in other parts of the country for the past few decades.
You can play this version of Hornafjarðarmanni online against computer or human players at cardgames.io.
Þ. Guðmundsson's Spilabók AB describes a different version of Hornafjarðarmanni. It is similar to Trjámann, except that there are six possible contracts: Nullo, Grand, Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds, the last four having the named suit as trumps. Aces are always high, even in Nullo. The game takes 18 deals. The first time you are declarer you have the choice of any of the six contracts, the next time you can choose from the remaining five, and so on until in the last three deals the declarer has no choice at all.
This version, presumably played at Laugavatn, is described in Þ. Guðmundsson's Spilabók AB.
It is similar to Trjámann, but with six possible contracts: Nullo, Grand, Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds, the last four having the named suit as trumps. The game takes 18 deals.
The player to the left of dealer chooses any contract he or she has not yet played, but either of the other players can try to take over the role of declarer by announcing a great contract in either Grand or one of the four suits, provided that the player has not already played a contract in this denomination. In a great contract the declarer has a target of 14 tricks, and the other players a target of 1 each.
If either of the other players offers to play a great contract, the player left of dealer can retain the right to be declarer by also undertaking to play a great contract, which can be in any suit or grand this player has not yet used.
If the player to dealer's right announces a great contract and the player to dealer's left does not wish to compete by also announcing one, the dealer can become declarer by undertaking a great contract in a higher denomination, the ordering being Grand (high), hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs (low). Again this higher bid must be in a suit or Grand that the dealer has not already played.
There is no "great nullo" contract.
As in Trjámann the declarer can discard up to 4 cards and replace them from the Manni. The declarer leads to the first trick.
In the ordinary Grand and suit contracts the targets are 8 for the declarer and 4 for each of the other players as usual. In Nullo the target is 4 for declarer and 6 for each of the others. Scoring is as in Trjámann.
If declarer takes 15 tricks in a great contract, the declarer wins 4 points and each opponent loses 2. For taking all 16 tricks the declarer wins 8 points and each other player loses 4. If the declarer takes 14 or fewer tricks, the scoring is normal - each player wins or loses a point for each trick above or below their target.